Biohacker Wins Nobel Prize in Medicine
Doctor infected himself with stomach eating bacteria to prove a point and won the Nobel Prize.
Barry Marshall is an Australian doctor, with the biggest “balls of iron”, I have ever had the privilege to meet. He proved all his colleagues wrong by infecting himself with stomach eating bacteria and won a Nobel Prize in Medicine. Growing up in Australia, his example inspired me to work with a team to discover how Gut Bacteria function
“To gastroenterologists, the concept of a germ causing ulcers was like saying that the Earth is flat.”
Peptic Ulcers are a break in your stomach lining, that hurts like a saltwater crocodile is chewing your stomach. Along with immense pain there is a risk of death from perforation and bleeding. The medical community believed it was caused stress and lifestyle. It was incurable.
Along comes maverick Australian, Dr. Barry Marshall (and his mate Dr. Robin Warren), who discovered ulcers were caused by an infection of the Helicobacter pylori bacteria. Taking samples from ulcer patients and culturing them in the lab, Barry discovered this infection caused; not only ulcers, but some forms of stomach cancer. He could cure ulcers with a course of basic antibiotics!
The medical community didn’t take him seriously. Barry told me that “to gastroenterologists, the concept of a germ causing ulcers was like saying that the Earth is flat.”
Barry was sure he knew the cause but there was a problem - this bacterium only lived in primates and he couldn’t get the funding for that sort of clinical study.
Biohacking to the Rescue
“ He said "she’ll be right!” and drank the vial. He told me it “tasted like swamp water”.
Barry realised there was only one test subject available…himself! He stole a sample of Helicobacter pylori from the hospital, said “she’ll be right!” and drank the vial. He told me it “tasted like swamp water”.
A few days passed and he had symptoms of gastritis, the precursor to an ulcer. It was rough: he was vomiting, felt sick and exhausted. The biopsy proved he had H. pylori proving unequivocally that bacteria were the underlying cause of ulcers.
The doctor infected himself with stomach eating bacteria to prove his point.
Marshall and his college Warren won the 2005 Nobel Prize for their work on Helicobacter pylori forever changing how medicine looks at gut bacteria.
Barry and me: Growing up in Australia, his example inspired me to work with a team to discover how Gut Bacteria function.